In Review: Star Wars #50

The story will leave one squirming in fear with every turn of the page and the art will inspire and terrify.

The covers: Seven covers to track down like they’re on Ord Mantell. The Regular cover by Travis Charest has Leia in her dress from the awards ceremony at the end of A New Hope. She’s holding her pistol at her left. The interesting thing about her is that the dark portions of her dress hold a star field that contains blueprints of an X-wing, a TIE Fighter, a Star Destroyer, and an Imperial walker. This is a very clever idea for an illustration and Charest executes it flawlessly. Next is John Tyler Christopher’s Action Figure Varaint cover which is a fake Kenner action figure on the card featuring The Emperor. The toy looks just like one from the classic line from the 1980s and the large picture accompanying the figure looks fantastic. I always try to collect these covers because they look so cool. The Terry & Rachel Dodson Variant cover has Luke in his X-wing pilot outfit with his pistol in his right hand. Just behind him is Leia in all white with an ivory cape wrapping around her. Behind them is a giant image of Vader. His enormous hand reaches out to grab the pair. The Lord of the Sith is surrounded by several X-wing and TIE Fighters, with some exploding. Any cover by the Dodsons is a MUST BUY book! David Marquez’s Variant features the Executor pointing downwards against a black background. Before it is Vader holding his lightsaber, the red light of his blade outlining him in crimson. This is a neat image, but isn’t an exciting cover. I really like the Phil Noto Variant that has Luke in his pilot’s uniform again, his helmet held in his left arm. Behind him, in a cloud of smoke, an X-wing blasts skyward at a forty-five degree angle. This is a fantastic image and the colors are perfect. Like the Dodsons, any cover by Noto is one worth owning. There is also a Galactic Icons Variant cover by Rod Reis. This time Grand Admiral Thrawn is the focus, staring at the reader with his unblinking orange and red eyes. His white uniform makes the blues of his face and hair riveting. This is another cover I have to track down. Comixposure has an Exclusive Rahzzah cover that’s a beautiful image of Luke shown from the right in the cockpit of an X-wing. Below him is the Star Wars logo and three X-wings speeding over it. This looks like a photograph, it’s that realistic. Really, really cool. Overall grades: Regular A, Action Figure Variant A+, Dodson Variant A+, Marquez Variant C, Noto Variant A+, Galactic Icons Variant A+, and Comixposure A 

The stories: Kieron Gillen is the author of both stories, the first being “Hope Dies.” This is a 30 page tale that takes place after the events of Episode IV and provides a lead in to the appropriately titled The Empire Strikes Back. At Mako-Ta, the Rebel Base, a party is being held in celebration of the fleet that’s been built to fight against the Empire. Mon Mothma and Leia share words until the princess gets the hint to speak with Queen Trios, whose people secretly outfitted the Rebels to the strength they’re now at. The pair look outside to see several Mon Calamari cruisers, each refitted with parts and systems from Shu-Torun. Each cruiser is also fully outfitted with fighter squadrons. This celebration soon comes to a halt when unannounced guests arrive and some difficulties with some tech are discovered. This is a really bleak read, given how happily this begins. Granted, it should be bleak as it’s leading into TESB, but even I was feeling weighted down by the utter lack of optimism that begins on 16. There’s a brief interruption early in the story focusing on Han and Threepio, with Chewie along as well. This was fun and is setting up future worries for the Corellian. The second tale is “Shu-Torun Lives.” This ten pager reveals the before unknown reason why someone does something in this series. Did this tale need to be told? Not really, as most readers had probably created their own backstory. However, it’s an okay read, though my favorite moments involved Kendal Ozzel and Maximilian Veers. After reading this short story I realized that the younger character is going to go down extremely hard at some point. It now just becomes a matter of when. Overall grade: B+

The art: Salvador Larroca is the artist of the first tale and it’s gorgeous. The opening image is a good foreshadow of things to come. All the human characters look like photographs, with Leia making me sigh every time she appears. An original character, Queen Trios is equally impressive looking. Pages 11 and 12 show some X-wings making some tricky maneuvers which are stunners. Page 13 and 14 reveal some familiar faces, with the character in the fourth panel on 14 scream worthy. The reaction by the character on 17 is incredible; I can’t imagine any fan feeling untouched by looking on this individual’s visage. The double-paged splash on 18 and 19 is spectacular and dramatic. There’s another double-paged splash on 26 and 27 and will hammer at the reader’s heart. The six panels inserted at the bottom of the page will mirror the reader’s face. There’s only one panel of dialogue on 28, relying primarily on Larroca to tell this individual’s story solely in images. It’s terrific and shows that there’s more to be revealed about this person. The last two pages show Vader watching what’s occurring. He can’t emote visually due to his mask, but the way Larroca sets up each panel, with the final page being a full-paged splash, will send chills down the reader’s spine. This story looks amazing. Giuseppe Camuncoli provides the pencils with Cam Smith inking him on the second tale. The art is not photorealistic like the first story, but is still impressive looking. The opening pages on Mustafar are neat, with the individuals speaking to Vader fun to see. There’s a brief two panel flashback to an iconic scene from Episode IV that looks amazing. The final six pages go to a new, yet familiar, location. The characters there look good and the action that happens is neat. The final panel of this story left me a little odd, as that character has never had that expression before, so it seemed out of character. Or, maybe, that character was playing to the person present. Overall grade: A

The colors: Guru-eFX is the colorist on the opening story. They do a bang-up job, enhancing the artwork. The yellows and oranges on the opening page are stellar. The characters’ flesh throughout the issue is amazing. Notice that when Trios speaks with Leia just behind her is a violet curtain. Purple is the color that is symbolic of royalty, so this is a subtle way that the colors reinforce character’s standings. Han and Threepio’s location is purposely dark, but not so dark that the visuals become lost. I am absolutely in love with the blues, pinks, and greens on 11 and 12 — they were a surprise and look incredible. Seeing the greens on the character on 14 made my heart flutter. Yellows and oranges are dominant on the double-paged splashes and they sell the artwork completely. The reader should also notice that the view from Vader’s window is always crimson, showing this path is paved in blood. A really outstanding job by eFX. Java Tartaglia is the colorist of the second story. Simmering oranges and blacks dominate the first four pages well, though the flashback panels are aged by tans. The final setting of the book contains many yellows to represent gold, but notice how the gutters on Page 5 are red, which is a slick bit of foreshadowing. By the end of the tale crimsons are effecting everything in the artwork. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles is the letterer for the entire issue, creating sounds, dialogue, scene settings, droid speech, Wookiee speech, Alaphani speech, Artoo speech, and yells. I was glad to see the different yells in this issue are differed from the flimsy dialogue font, though they look italicized. Why Star Wars books continue to use this willowy dialogue font is beyond me. The scene settings are also very blasé. I do like Threepio, Artoo, and Chewie’s speech, with all being unique and absolutely fitting of each. I also really like the Alaphani speech that makes a quick appearance; it’s neat to see old Goldenrod speaking a language that humans would not be able to understand. Overall grade: B

The cover gallery: Comprising four pages after the first story, every Regular cover in this series’ history is shown. Assistant Editor Tom Groneman writes the accompanying text, thanking readers for picking up this series and asking them to send letters. The covers are neat to see, as I’m sure most older readers have each of these. However, I would be more impressed if the Variant covers, of which there are many, many more were shown. That would be something impressive. Overall grade: A-

The final line: A highly enjoyable issue as the Rebels’ past victories are brutally erased. The story will leave one squirming in fear with every turn of the page and the art will inspire and terrify. A fantastic Star Wars read. Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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